M5 to the Polo in Ascot
July was rounded off with a taste of high society as my wife attended Ladies’ Day at the polo in Ascot. The M5 doesn't tend to see too many girls’ road trips, but in full Comfort mode it wafted the ladies, complete with oversized hats, with grace and pace down to the Queen's own back yard.
The trip through Windsor town, Windsor Great Park and on to Ascot is a beautiful drive in the Berkshire and Surrey stockbroker belt, and one that always encounters some high-end automotive machinery. Both on the way down and while parked up at the polo, with an age disguising private registration plate and a good polish, the V10 M5 still more than held its own in the company of much newer luxury marques. I can’t think of many other cars that can so successfully pull off this trick at a sub-£20k price point.
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The M Coupe and a guest vehicle came in for some serious attention this week as my many boxes of car detailing equipment found their way out of storage.
If you follow any of the evo staff writers on Twitter, sooner or later you will come across the work of Richard Tipper, aka @PerfectionValet. Being one of the top car detailers in the country he has access to some of the most expensive, not to mention rare, vehicles in the UK and possibly the world.
Richard’s work is fantastically fanatical in its pursuit of perfection, as his Twitter handle implies. Taking the seats out of cars to vacuum and clean around them properly? Oh yes. Cleaning inside the holes in the drilled brake discs of a Ferrari F40? You’d better believe it.
I don’t go to quite those extremes, of course, but I do what I can with my basic detailing kit. The process usually involves cleaning in every nook and cranny around the outside of the car with some specific brushes to get rid of all the gunk that washing the car with a mitt or sponge can’t reach. In and around vehicle badging, doorjambs and window seals, and, yes, even the exhaust tips get seen to. Washing and drying is followed by clay barring the whole car. If you have never used a clay bar on your car and you care about its appearance, giving one a go is a must. You will be staggered at the amount of grit and contaminants your paintwork mercilessly grips on to regardless of how much you wash it.
Machine polishing with cutting and finishing compounds precedes two coats of carnauba wax to finally deliver a deep-shine finish.
The genuine CSL alloys that have lived on my E46 M3 for a number of years have been transferred to the M Coupe after they were shipped off to The Wheel Specialist in South Wales for refurbishment in Ferric Grey II. This is a genuine BMW wheel colour found on a few models in the range, including my mate Kyle’s 235i M that came to Le Mans with us a few weeks back. It’s a lovely shade of grey that sets off the white Z4M Coupe bodywork perfectly.
A set of genuine CSL alloys are very hard to come by these days as BMW famously would not sell them to anyone that could not present a genuine CSL VIN number with an accompanying vehicle registration document. Even then I seem to recall a full set were in excess of £4k. As such I am pretty fussy with who gets to handle mine and the guys (Mike took care of mine) at The Wheel Specialist are one of the few outfits that you know will always do a top-notch job.
The other guest car that I tackled was my cousin Dominic’s newly acquired Clio 197 with the Cup chassis. After coming to Le Mans with us for a few years, his first car (a very sensible Nissan Micra) was binned in favour of the revered French pocket rocket. Good choice, Dom!
evo 200 test
Sadly the M5 was no longer needed for the evo 200 group test after the field of cars chosen to appear was halved so that the team would actually be able to drive them all! This was a big shame of course, as I was looking forward to witnessing a seminal evo group test in action. Seeing my car in evo’s print edition would have been pretty cool, but I was also looking forward to bagging a few passenger hot laps around the evo Triangle. Never mind. Maybe next time…